BWCA Maligne River Rapids (Sturgeon to Tanner) Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
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member (7)member
07/23/2022 12:29PM  
Hello wonderful BWCA community! First post here.

Planning a beautiful trip for 12 days in Quetico this year in August. First time in Quetico!

We are considering a run from Sturgeon to Tanner through the Maligne River rapids, but considering the high water warnings I have been reading on the boards, wanting to check in and see if anyone had some recent intel on this area.

Much appreciated!

Also curious about the current burn conditions. This side of the park has significant fire damage from last year as it looks. Any news on this? Are we missing out on the South East side of the park by going to this side?

Lots of love.

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member (7)member
07/23/2022 12:32PM  
We´re a group of experienced paddlers, some 16+ years, but not all with serious white water conditions. I understand we may have to portage part of this route, but just want to get a general understanding of these rapids and any experiences you all might have. THANKS!!!

Attached, a beauty from Temagami some years ago...
distinguished member(2970)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/23/2022 04:27PM  
I can’t speak about the burn. I can say that water levels are returning to normal. The Maligne is a beautiful river! In normal water conditions you can paddle most of it and just follow the portages where they are marked. I did that route several years ago.

Equally important is the history of this route which is part of the Dawson Trail. Do some reading about that. It’s a very historic route with many voyagers and native North Americans using this route for centuries.


PS, welcome to the forum. It’s a great place to share information.
07/24/2022 12:30AM  
So where are you entering? I’d assume Pickerel Stanton Bay but you have other options. You should check the portage maintenance maps. At this point the Maligne River to Tanner portages haven’t been maintained yet. Check the portage maintenance map on the Quetico park website. They are short but several short ones in a row. I do not believe those were in the burn though if they had been it would be a definite problem. I’d recommend calling the Atikokan office and getting some information from them. They are great and I’d recommend you talk to Jordan. He was a portage maintenance worker for a few years and he seriously knew the park and the portages at a different level! Like PHD level and he took the time to help me with planning when I had to change my route.

I’m a little confused by the route exit! Are you going to exit at Lac La Croix? Go back the same way? Exit at Beaverhouse?

We got out of the burn areas as quick as we could this year! We crossed through twice on our trip. One short portage in the burn took over an hour to figure out. The other burn the portage maintenance had done a ton of work and had flagged the route! It’s part of nature and neat to see. But we definitely chose not to camp near the areas burned last year. We did camp on Baird Lake which was close or on the edge more than I realized though.

Rkylake I’m
Guest Paddler
07/24/2022 02:25AM  
I’m a seasoned tripper and have made this trip several times. This route should be attempted by those who are comfortable in an isolated wilderness environment and has Several portages, swift current bends and unforgiving rapids. There are 3 portages between Sturgeon and Tanner Lake. One where Sturgeon empties into the Maligne, the Maligne rapid which is within eyesight once you cross the first portage and then the Hummingbird which is a mile or so approx of the Maligne portage. All of these areas should be approached with caution. The portages are there for a reason use them!
From Tanner to lac La Croix you have the short portage at Tanner rapids and the last portage at Twin Falls. From Twin Fall you will paddle out to where the Maligne meets La Crox. Sturgeon to LaCroix is approx 12 miles with 5 portages.
member (7)member
07/24/2022 03:10AM  
Thanks so much for the great info! We are starting at Voyagers on Nym lake and doing a massive loop (approx 160km travel…but looking to slim this down to 140). We are a bit split between heading west to the Maligne rapids which will lock us out of the eastern part of quetico (heading back North at Kahshahpiwi Lake) or by keeping east and heading south to the bottom of the park, avoiding most burn zones.

Interesting to consider that portages may be near impossible to find in burn zones.

I am mostly concerned with FOMO - a pretty common 1st timers experience in Quetico. Just too much to see!

Amazing responses from you all. Thank you!!!
07/24/2022 12:05PM  
That is definitely the challenge when planning a route the first trip. You can’t see it all so how are you going to lay out routes so you can logically see a new area on the next trip.

I tended to make sure I knew where good great campsites were and this allowed me to plan better on the day. It’s easy to think here, here, and here at home but once weather has its say and other variables like the portages maybe being a bit tougher because of reduced use you end up camping at different points.

We hadn’t planned on doing the S Chain and then cutting across to Trant to Northern Kahsahpiwi but decided to on trip. Mainly because I knew those portages had been maintained and a couple we talked to in a portage had been through the S chain. Probably would have been fine but I hadn’t heard of anyone going through Yum Yum to Kahsahpiwi and we didn’t want to get 3 tougher portages in to a known super hard portage and have a bunch of trees across the portage.

Northern Cairn, Heronshaw, and Metacryst we’re all pretty hard burn so I’d plan on just paddling through those areas and not camping in them. We went from Kahsahpiwi to Baird all in one intermittent thunderstorm day. Keefer and Sark would have been good to camp on but we wouldn’t have gotten far enough that day if we had stopped on those.

member (18)member
08/29/2022 06:33PM  
You’re likely finished your trip by now, but for anyone searching or researching a trip in September…

I went down the Maligne this August (on the 12th) and water levels were what I would call normal for the season.

I took the three portages on the Chrismar map, the 250m portage de gros rocher, the 310m portage de petites islettes, and the 240m portage de petits rochers. All were cleared, maintained, and easy to find. The last one is just before the rapid on river right, so pay attention.

I think that third one might be run if you have solid whitewater skills and maybe a sprayskirt thingy. It’s a straight run through big haystacks. I have no skill and I was travelling solo, so I took the portage. I would advise almost everyone to take the portage. And… It’s a beautiful lunch break spot.

The remaining rapids were doable by a novice. Just line up your canoe in the right place.

Tanner Lake has been burned, severely in some places, moderately in others. The portage at the exit of the lake has been cleared (portage de Roche Grenovilleus), about 25 metres. If you want to get from the portage to the rapid to take a photo, you will need to scramble through a lot of fire deadfall.

I wanted to see where John Tanner was shot, so it was quite interesting for me.

BTW I suspect that the name of the portage refers to the weird slabs of metamorphic rock with pebbles embedded in them? If you know about this, let me know, because googling is not helpful. Is it just a ‘v’ ‘u’ switch so that it means ‘frog rock’? Roche grenouilleuse?

Below Tanner Lake, there is one additional small rapid not shown on the Chrismar map, which took me by surprise. It’s about 1 km before the Minn Creek turn-off, where I turned off and headed to Minn Lake because I am a masochist who enjoys slogging through areas of breached beaver dams.

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